Grassroots sport clubs are highly valued by people in local communities, new research reveals

Girls playing football ()

New research has revealed that grassroots sport clubs are highly valued and important to local communities across the United Kingdom. 

Results from a survey of a nationally representative panel* conducted by the Sport and Recreation Alliance in partnership with physical activity consumer insight specialist Active Insights has revealed that over two thirds of individuals (68%) believe community sports clubs and groups play a crucial role in fostering a sense of community in their area. 

Other key findings include: 

  • 63% are concerned that their communities would be diminished if local sports clubs and groups were to disappear. 
  • 64% believe in the value of a diverse offer of activities for the local community.  
  • 46% acknowledged the importance of local sports clubs and groups in helping them and their families to be physically active. 

With 40% of all regularly active adults being a member of a sports club, the new evidence complements the economic and social contribution we know participation in sport and physical activity makes; overall saving the NHS £9.5bn annually and boosting the UK economy by £85bn each year.

Speaking on these findings, Sport and Recreation Alliance CEO Lisa Wainwright said: 

"The findings demonstrate how vital sport and recreation is for people and communities. It also shows us the importance of variety of offer – having a number of clubs that cater to a wide range of interests and skill levels helps to ensure inclusivity and accessibility for all. From football to yoga, from cricket to dance, these clubs enrich the lives of individuals and families."

She added: 

"We know from Sport England’s recent Active Lives data that volunteer numbers are declining, with 800,000 fewer than before the COVID-19 pandemic, and an overall decline of 2.1 million since 2016. 

"Alliance research from December 2022 also showed clubs operating in a financial 'red zone' (holding reserves below 33% of annual income) tripled from 12% in 2021 to 37% in 2023. Communities continue to struggle to keep their activities going and clubs afloat, also disproportionately affecting more deprived areas. 

"It would be a grave oversight from policymakers and leaders to allow their collapse through lack of support and I would urge all those elected to listen to their communities and recognise the invaluable contributions of local sports clubs. 

"As our nation and leaders look at what more can be done to strengthen communities, community sport should continue to be at the heart of plans."


*The survey was conducted by Active Insight using their Consumer Insight Panel to provide a nationally representative sample of 500 individuals.